MADISON, James (1751-1836), President. Letter signed ("James Madison"), as Secretary of State, to Arthur Fenner ("His Excellency, The Governor of Rhode Island"), Department of State, 20 July 1803. 1 full page, 4to, integral blank with address panel. In very fresh condition.
MADISON AND JEFFERSON SUMMON CONGRESS TO RATIFY THE PURCHASE OF THE LOUISIANA TERRITORY
An important circular letter in which the Secretary of State takes the unusual step of requesting state Governors to summon their senators and representatives to an extraordinary session of Congress: "As the new elections have produced changes in the members from some of the states in the next Congress, and as in others elections are yet to be made, I have supposed that notifications that Congress is convened on the 17th of October next at an extraordinary session, will more certainly be received thro the Executives of the respective states than in any other manner."
On 30 April, the U.S. negotiators in Paris, inquiring about the purchase of the port of New Orleans, were asked by Napoleon's Foreign Minister, Talleyrand, whether the nation would be interested in all of France's vast territories in North America. To take immediate advantage of this unexpected windfall, an agreement for the purchase was hastily drawn up and signed by James Monroe, and on 22 May it was approved by Napoleon. It was not until the second week of July that Jefferson himself received a copy, hand-carried by Peter Augustus Jay from Europe. Because the agreement specified that it would be void unless ratified by 30 October, Jefferson and Madison convened an extraordinary session of Congress to debate ratification and appropriate the necessary $15 million. On 20 October, 10 days before the deadline, the Senate voted 24 to 7 to ratify the Louisiana Purchase Treaty, virtually doubling the nation's land area and giving it control of the entire Mississippi River watershed and the great plains.